By Wole Mosadomi
Minna—Immediate past governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, and his former commissioner and Chief of staff, Umar Nasko, were yesterday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before a Minna high court on a six-count charge of corruption among others
A 95-count charge was earlier preferred against him before it was reduced to six by EFCC. The charge includes dishonestly converting to personal use money belonging to Niger State, amounting to about N5 billion.
Babangida and Nasko were brought into the court room at about 8.40a.m. by EFCC, led by its lead counsel, Gbolahan Latona and three other lawyers.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them by the presiding judge, Justice Aliyu Maiyaki.
The court, however, stood down for 30 minutes, after commencement of the case, to enable counsel involved to compare notes on oral application by EFCC to amend its charges.
On resumption of proceedings, counsel to the first and second accused, Ayodele Oladeji and Mamman Mike Osuman, did not object to the amended charges.
The first count charge accused the duo of committing illegal act of criminal breach of trust in 2015, contrary to Section 97 of the Criminal Code.
The second charge is of withdrawal of N540 million for personal use, contrary to Section 111 of Penal Code and punishable under Section 104 of same code.
Also, the former governor was in the third count charge accused of dishonestly converting to personal use over N1.725 billion, belonging to the state government, contrary to Section 311 of Penal Code punishable under Section 304.
Despite the heavy security presence within the court premises, many pro-Babangida supporters, mostly youths, took over the major roads leading to the court premises with different placards in support of the former governor.
The former governor, who was picked up by the anti-graft agents from his Abuja home three weeks ago, arrived the Minna High Court 11, presided over by Justice Aliyu Maiyaki at exactly 8:40a.m. in a black Toyota land cruiser SUV with number plates NPF 6914C.
The judge, after listening to the arguments from both prosecution and defence counsel, ordered the two accused to be remanded in Minna Prison custody till May 3 for the ruling on the bail application.